Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

 

Rod Phillips: Trusting God Every Step of the Way

Rod and Donna Phillips

His smile widened and his eyes lit up as he reflected on that time in his life, remembering what it was like to see her for the very first time.

“During the end of college, I met a beautiful brunette girl who was a Christian,” Rod said. “She stole my heart and introduced me to the Lord.”

Rod was born in a small farming community in Littlefield, Texas, in the early 1950s where everyone knew one another. He has three older sisters, and his mother raised them. Rod’s father was an abusive alcoholic, and, because of that, the community ostracized the entire family. Rod said there was not community resources like there are today, which made things even more difficult for him and his family.

“My Boy Scout leaders had the most influence on me when I was younger; they were my father figures because my father wasn’t there,” Rod said. “They would work with me and teach me to be prepared, teach me how to work with other people and how to be in teams.”

Rod and his family moved to San Jose, California, and Rod spent his kindergarten and first grade school year there. Then, they moved back to Texas. Rod said he felt like they bounced back and forth and moved often, and he really struggled in school.

“I didn’t have much help with grades,” Rod said. “I barely passed high school, and I wasn’t going to go to college. I finally did decide to go, so I got a national defense loan.”

Rod went to West Texas University and was determined to do well in college. Not only did Rod do well, but he made the Dean’s Honor Roll. He was involved in Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (AFROTC), which he thoroughly enjoyed. He scored 98 percentile on the qualifications to become a pilot in the Air Force. Rod was planning on being an Air Force pilot after college. But, Rod also loved science. So, he transferred to Texas Tech University to major in science. There, he worked at Bell Telephone full time as well. In 1974, Rod graduated and received his degree in Wildlife Management.

During Rod’s last semester of college at Texas Tech, the Vietnam War ended and the Air Force began reducing forces. Because of Rod’s science degree, the Air Force dropped him. However, that same semester of college in 1974, Rod met that beautiful brunette Christian girl who stole his heart and introduced him to the Lord—Donna.

“It wasn’t the end of the world when the Air Force dropped me,” Rod said. “Now I had the Lord leading me instead of me leading myself.”

In 1979, Rod believed God wanted him to go to seminary. That year, he started at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, where he began his work in childcare at the All Church Home for Children. He was the chaplain/caseworker there for three years. In seminary school, Rod devoted his days and nights to studying and succeeding.

While working and taking seminary courses, Rod and Donna had their first son, Jarod, in 1982. Rod said seminary was extremely difficult and he had to take two years of Greek and a year of Hebrew. He completed his Master of Theology in the winter of 1984.

After working at the children’s home in Fort Worth for two years, Rod realized the Lord wanted him to work in the childcare ministries.

“The Lord must have a sense of humor sending me through Greek and Hebrew when he knew all along I would work in the childcare ministries,” Rod said. “But it really comes down to me—if I was willing to put out the effort, willing to do what I didn’t think I could do and willing to do that for the Lord.”

Shortly after Rod received his master’s degree, he attended a childcare ministries conference, where Mr. James Browning, former assistant to the president of OBHC, spoke. Rod said he was intrigued, and he really liked that Oklahoma had a culture of the ministry and would take care of multiple needs of children and families.

“I talked to Mr. Browning after the conference about OBHC,” Rod said. “I was just so impressed.”

Two weeks later, Rod got a call from Baptist Children’s Home in Owasso, Oklahoma, about an opening. Rod followed God’s guidance for his life and became the assistant administrator of the Owasso campus in 1985. The following year, Rod and Donna had their second son, Todd. They stayed at the Owasso campus until 1988, when Rod accepted a position as the administrator at Baptist Children’s Home in Oklahoma City. He remained there with his family for 25 years.

In 2010, Rod became the vice president of programs at OBHC. Then, the Board transitioned Rod to the vice president of operations and programs so that he could assist the new president during that transition.

“It was a need for OBHC and I already was the vice president of programs, so I believed that’s what God wanted me to do,” Rod said.

The scope of Rod’s job is huge. He oversees the accounting and finance department. He oversees every OBHC campus as well— Baptist Children’s Home in Owasso, Baptist Children’s Home in Oklahoma City, Boys Ranch Town in Edmond and Baptist Home for Girls in Madill. He also oversees the Hope Pregnancy Centers in North Oklahoma City, South Oklahoma City, Ardmore and Tulsa. The administrators and directors of these programs report to him.

“There is no average day for me,” Rod said. “Things moving quickly is good for me. My wife says if I had to stay at a desk, I’d just shrivel up and die, and I think she is right.”

He tilted his head toward the ceiling and narrowed his eyes, as he attempted to choose a memory as if he could see the images in front of him.

“I have several wonderful memories working at OBHC,” Rod said. “But they’d all be in one category—seeing children graduate from high school.”

Rod said he could think of one girl who reminded him of himself when he was young; she did not do well in school. She had test anxiety, but OBHC provided tutors and mentors for her. The young lady graduated from high school. Then, she graduated from college, and she is currently in school to get her master’s degree.

“You have young people who truly had no concept when they came to us that there was a future or hope,” Rod said. “She not only has hope, but she also accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior.

“I think the one thing I would count as the biggest blessing is seeing young people accept Christ, their world changes upside down and they have hope and a new future. Hope is by far the greatest goal.”

Rod said he is passionate about OBHC because it has created a culture of using people’s strengths. He believes each program has the ability to grow, move and shape based on the Lord’s leadership and employee’s personalities and behavior styles.

“OBHC has done a great job of getting the right people on the bus and on the right seat on the bus,” Rod said. “I would describe OBHC like a navy fleet, where Owasso is its own boat with its own captain, but we’re all going in the same direction.”

Rod is also the DISC trainer for OBHC. He received training in Texas about 12 years ago. He teaches employees about their personalities and behavior styles and how to work with others. He is a Sunday School teacher at Southern Hills Baptist Church as well. Outside of work, Rod enjoys biking; he bikes several miles three times a week. He also enjoys woodworking and social gatherings with family and friends.

Years ago, God used Rod’s Boy Scout leaders and his wife, Donna, to shape Rod into the Christian, driven, caring man he is today. Now, Rod allows Christ to use him to minister to others and enhance OBHC into the Lord’s masterpiece, giving Him the glory and trusting Him every step of the way.

Story by Kate French, OBHC Communications Associate



Biography: Rod Phillips

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